PHP Hydra 17-Position Tuner Install on Project 600-HP 7.3L
PHP Hydra 17-Possition Tuner Install on Project 600-HP 7.3L
Big turbos and big injectors mean nothing without the right tuning. Nowadays, with the advent of tuning software, such as EFI Live for late model Dodges and GMs, or Minotaur for Ford’s 7.3L, anything is possible and easily had. But to get these custom tunes onto your early Ford, you’ll need a medium such as Power Hungry Performance’s Hydra Chip.
The Hydra plugs into the 7.3L’s Injector Drive Module (IDM) and holds up to 17 custom tunes, all of which are selectable on the fly from a small box we mounted to the dash. For stock to “stock-ish” trucks, PHP has a whole slew of ready-to-go tunes that include the given race tunes, tow tunes and daily driver tunes, all in varying levels of performance. They also have a bunch of really helpful tunes, like: high idle in three different RPM levels; valet mode, again in three different levels; speed-limited tunes (for teen drivers or for when your buddy borrows the truck); a whisper mode that quiets the engine, and more. For those who have more heavily modified trucks, PHP can build a tune (or tunes) for whatever you need—and not only for the engine, but the transmission, as well.
Since Project 600-hp 7.3L now has some big injectors and an aftermarket turbo, custom tuning wasn’t just something we wanted for it, it was mandatory. So, of course, the Hydra was our first choice, and the install only took us a couple of hours to complete. DW
Power Hungry Performance
Gateway to Power: Installing PHP’s Hydra Chip on a 7.3L Power Stroke
Thanks to aftermarket tuning products such as the TS Performance six-position chip — which all but revolutionized the diesel industry nearly two decades ago — 7.3L Power Stroke owners have been able to navigate their performance settings on-the-fly. However, up until a few short years ago, owners of ’94.5-’03 Fords were limited in the number of performance settings they had to choose from.
In addition, if they wanted to make any tuning changes, the chip had to be pulled and mailed to their preferred calibrator (i.e., custom tuner). This usually meant at least one week of downtime. And for owners running big injectors and aftermarket high-pressure oil pumps (which rely on custom tuning in order to maximize the performance potential of these components), this often leads to their truck being down on power or losing some of its street manners without the chip attached to the PCM (powertrain control module).
When Power Hungry Performance (PHP) released the Hydra Chip, it was a new day for 7.3L fans. In addition to holding as many as 17 tuning files at a time, the Hydra can be reprogrammed (i.e., re-burned) without having to mail the chip to your tuner. You simply download PHP’s free HydraFlash software to your desktop or laptop, and you not only have the ability to program the chip yourself, but you also have unlimited access to PHP’s vast library of proven tuning calibrations. In addition, the Hydra allows you to run performance files from different custom tuners — perfect for owners looking to test different calibrations or for those of us with different preferences.
Follow along as we program a Hydra and install it on a 7.3L test mule in a matter of minutes.
The Hydra Chip from Power Hungry Performance (PHP) comes with everything you need to install it. This includes the chip itself, switch with digital read-out, ribbon cable, USB cable, Velcro for mounting and zip-ties. Just as it was after the TS Performance six-position chip debuted nearly two decades ago, the Hydra is now the preferred method of tuning a 7.3L Power Stroke.
In the performance enthusiast realm, they’re literally on 90 percent of the modified ’94.5-’03 Ford trucks we come across. When used to take advantage of the awesome custom calibrations available in the aftermarket, the Hydra can hold every tune from Hi-idle (for quicker winter warm ups) to a powertrain-saving, heavy tow file to an all-out performance setting — all of which are available at your finger tips.
A supplied USB cable connects the Hydra Chip to your computer in order to program it. Without a doubt, the best aspect of the Hydra is the fact that you don’t have to mail your chip anywhere to make tuning changes, which means virtually zero downtime. While you’re still at the mercy of your tuner emailing you back (provided you don’t write your own tuning files), with the Hydra you no longer have to pay shipping or risk your chip getting lost in transit.
After downloading PHP’s HydraFlash software to our PC, we were ready to upload the Hydra chip with the tuning files sitting in our Inbox (created and emailed to us courtesy of our preferred custom tuner). To do that, we downloaded each file and then opened the HydraFlash interface. Clicking on the open folder icon (shown) allows you to browse through your downloaded tuning files to find the calibration you want to run for each particular position. Notice that positions 8-11 are marked “Blank,” which indicates no tuning files have been programmed into these numeric positions yet.
Once you’ve clicked on the aforementioned “open folder” icon, you can navigate to your downloaded tuning files and select the one you want to program into that specific numeric position. If you’re new to custom 7.3L tuning, don’t mind the file naming system… Your tuner will always let you know which tune does what and will name them accordingly.
Following your tune selection, you’ll be brought back to the previous screen. Notice that while a tuning file has been selected for the No. 1 and 2 positions, they’re listed as “Un-programmed.” We prefer to wait until all files are where we want them before programming them.
After all tuning files are arranged in the order you want them to be on the chip, you click “Program.” Programming every position available on the Hydra can take a few minutes, but we’re told that programming (or reprogramming) one position at a time can be performed in as little as 20 seconds.
With all files programmed onto the chip, the previous “Unprogrammed” status changes to “Programmed,” along with the date it was programmed (which in conjunction with the name of the file can be helpful for enthusiasts trying to differentiate between dozens of custom tunes in their library). From there, it’s time to install the chip onto the PCM.
This is the switch that comes with the Hydra. It’s the device that allows you to seamlessly navigate through all of your tunes. The easy-to-read digital display always provides visual confirmation as to which calibration you’re running.
In addition to no longer having to mail your chip to your tuner, this USB extension cable and bracket allows you to permanently leave the chip attached to the PCM. Available as an added option with the purchase of any Hydra Chip, the cable retails for just $25 and makes it possible to retune your Hydra (via laptop) from the driver seat. It’s ideal for making quick tuning changes at the track, on the dyno or even on the side of the road.
While we physically wrote out each tuning position on a piece of paper, it’s worth noting that the HydraFlash software allows you to print out a customized calibration list (we didn’t have a printer nearby…). Trust us, with 17 potential tunes on tap, it pays to keep a list of your tuning files on hand.
As for this particular truck, it was benefitting from a set of larger injectors from Unlimited Diesel Performance, a DieselSite Adrenaline high-pressure oil pump and a drop-in 66 mm turbo upgrade. These tunes were custom-built for our specific application and came from the tuning pros at Gearhead Automotive Performance. Our 7.3L test mule went on to clear 420 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque on the chassis dyno.
For more Ford truck tech help, check out how to find another 80 horsepower in your twin turbo 2.7L V6.
HydraFlash is used with our Hydra Chip to load standard and custom tunes to a chip. Please note that HydraFlash is only compatible with Windows computers.Click Here
This simply utility makes it easy to offer your customers securely encrypted calibrations. This helps prevent unauthorized distribution or modification of your calibrations. Simply download and install the utility. Once the installation is complete, run the application, enter the customer's Serial Number from the Hydra Chip™, and then drag the desired files into the file window. The files will be converted from a standard binary (*.bin) file to a Hydra Custom File (*.hcf).
The encrypted files will work ONLY on the designated chip as determined by the serial number.Click Here
HYDRA FIRMWARE V188.8.131.52
This is the latest firmware for the Hydra Chip.
Note: All Hydra Chips manufactured and sold since 2013 have the latest firmware.
DO NOT UPDATE the Hydra Chip unless instructed to do so by our Technical Support staff.
To update, download the Hydra Firmware file to your computer, connect your Hydra Chip, and then run the HydraFlash software. From the [Hydra Chip] menu, select [Update Device Firmware]. Double Click on the filename box, browse to the location of the saved Firmware file, select the file, and then click [Open]. Select [Update] to begin the Firmware update. Once the update is complete, you should be able to load your tunes onto the chip.Click Here
Pegasus is the software needed to download custom tunes to a Gryphon programmer. It is also used to read vehicles and unlock programmers.Click Here
SILICON LABS USB TO UART DRIVER v6.7
This is the latest USB Driver for the SiLabs USB to UART (COM Port) device. This is used by both Pegasus and PhoenixFlash on all the later devices. If you are having a problem with the USB Driver that comes with the installers, please upgrade using this version.Click Here
Power Hungry Performance's Minotaur™ Automotive Tuning Software is the ideal tuning platform for both the professional tuner and the hobbyist. With simple, graphical displays, you can visually adjust fuel curves, timing tables, speed limits, shifting strategies, and hundreds of other functions. Combined with the QuarterHorse™ emulator, this becomes a powerful Live-Tuning platform for the 7.3L Power Stroke as well as most 1988 to 2003 gasoline vehicles. Now with available options for later model F-150's and 6.0L's, you will be able to build your own calibrations to match the mechanical modifications of your truck.
You're welcome to download the software for free and receive a limited function demo license so you can test-drive it! Simply enter the name "Demo User" (without the quotes) when asked and you will be up and running in no time at all.Click Here
RPM VS MPH CALCULATOR
Want to know what gears to choose for your new tires? Or maybe you're just curious how many RPMs you're running at a specific speed. This utility helps you figure all that out. It is set up for the 4R100 transmission, but can easily be modified to work with the 5R110 or any other transmission, provided you know what the ration is for each gear. This is a handy utility for drag racers as well as high speed racers that need to know what their engine RPMs are at in specific gears at specific speeds when figuring out tire and gear combinations.Click Here
This is a SAE Spec formula that determines how Load is calculated by a vehicle's PCM.Click Here
PATS ID AND RESET
For Ford owners, this helps provide proper igntion key and PATS (Passice Anti-Theft System) identification so that you can easily replace keys on your vehicle. PLEASE NOTE - If you do not already have 2 functioning keys, you will need to have a factory service tool in order to reset the PATS system. Otherwise, the vehicle will need to be brought to the dealership or other authorized repair facility to have the keys reset.Click Here
LIVE TUNING VS DYNO TUNING
If you wanted to know the differences between Dyno Tuning, Live Tuning, and Street Tuning, this sums it all up nicely.Click Here
OBDII SYSTEM READINESS TEST
In certain municipalities, vehicles need to be inspected for emissions. If you've made modifications to the vehicle, cleared any Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs), or have disconnected the batteries, your vehicle may need to complete a System Readiness Test procedure before you can pass your emissions test. This document outlines the driving conditions the procedure requires to complete test. A very handy document for repair shops and hobbyists alike.Click Here
Install hydra chip
.7.3 Powerstroke PHP Hydra Chip install with JELIBUILT tunes
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